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What's Next for Meisha Tate

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What's Next for Meisha Tate

Meisha Tate made her return to the cage this past weekend and scored a dominant ground and pound TKO victory over a very pedestrian Marion Reneau.    It was Tate’s first fight in 5 years, which coming back from that big of a layoff is amazing enough, but compound that with the fact she had 2 children since her last fight and her triumphant return is even more impressive. 

            I’ve been a huge MeishaTate fan since the beginning, and I think that her rivalry with former champion Ronda Rousey is responsible for bringing women’s MMA to the masses.  It could be argued that without their rivalry the popularity of women’s MMA would have fizzled when Rousey’s career ended with resounding back-to-back losses to Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes.  It had happened earlier when the Gina Carano hype train was derailed by Christine Cyborg.  But Tate was the yin to Rousey’s yang.  Her smile and seemingly pleasant personality was the polar opposite trash talking fake tough girl personality that Rousey displayed.  Many people could just not to relate to her, so it was good to have another side to root for.  But I digress.

            Although Tate’s victory definitely was a feel good story for us old head viewers, it’s really difficult to say where Tate belongs in the current UFC bantamweight division pecking order.  It’s really difficult to say.  After all, she fought in front of 28 fans and took on a 9-7 fighter who was 44 years old and fighting her last fight.  GSP returning from a hiatus to go up in weight and fight Michael Bisping for the title, and winning, it was not. 

            The big question is how will she hold up under the pressure of performing in front of a bloodthirsty crowd, and fighting ladies who are MUCH better than the crop she last faced back in 2016.  Obviously there is current titleholder Amanda Nunes, which no female on the planet earth is beating any time soon.  Nunes is an absolute beast with no weaknesses.  The best the other ladies can hope for is Nunes get’s tired of fighting, a la Khabib, or gets clipped by an undersized Valentina Schevchenko in their inevitable trilogy fight.

            Irene Aldana has been on a tear lately and nobody wants any of that smoke.  Juliana Pena is another fighter that seems to have fixed any shortcomings she may have had in the past.  So both of those appear to be off the table for Tate, or at least they should be 

            It all depends on how the UFC plans to use Tate.  There are a few different routes they could take.  She definitely showed well enough in her return bout to garner a spot on a PPV main card, or possibly be the main event for a UFC Fight Night.  They thought enough of her name recognition to give her the co-main in her return, which netted her a nice $211,000 paycheck, so nothing is off the table.

            Two fights come to mind that make sense.  If they go the Fight Night route, I think they could pit her against Sara McMann.  Sara, like Tate, has a lot of name recognition ill draws well. It also makes sense from an age standpoint as well.  McMann also isn’t a technical marvel in the striking department, which is something that Tate has struggled with in the past.  It wouldn’t be the greatest main event in the history of main events, but have you seen some of the main events lately for Fight Night?  Sean Strickland is headlining the UFC event on July 31, and I wouldn’t know him if he walked in my gym with a shirt saying “I’m Sean Strickland”.

            If you’re looking at putting Tate on a ppv, then it would make sense to put her in as a type of “gatekeeper” fight.  On paper it would make perfect sense to have her fight Aspen Ladd.  The UFC would love to build Ladd up as a possible challenger to Nunes, and a win over such a huge name as Tate would help cement her as a viable contender for the UFC strap. 

            Or the UFC could go completely Captain Obvious and have book a rematch with Holly Holm.  This makes sense on a lot of levels, it just depends on if the UFC wants to pull the trigger on it now, or hold on to it for later.   On paper it seems that conventional wisdom would favor Holm in a rematch, but it would be a big draw for older and new fans alike. 

            Regardless of what the UFC decides to do with Tate, her return is already a huge success.  I had already written her epitath before the fight, but obviously I was bit premature on that one.  I’ll own it.  My belief was that she was too old, that she had too many other things going on in her life, etc. to make a comeback.  But I’m a non-competitive sports writer, so it’s easy for me to pass judgment from the keyboard.  In the end, she knew better than the naysayers, and proved me wrong.  Good luck to Tate in the future, whatever that may be.


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